Amid all the changes to work life, it needs to be business as usual for HR professionals, says Sirmara Campbell.
Over the course of the stay-at-home mandates and COVID-19, many roles have had to adapt to a new reality, and human resource professionals are no exception.
HR leaders have shown immense agility, quickly pivoting to maneuver in this new world of work, with very little preparation time. HR teams have had to support employees mentally and emotionally, ensure they have all they need to work efficiently from home, keep engagement and morale high, coordinate furloughs and layoffs, and much more.
The role of human resources has changed greatly in a short amount of time, and it will continue to adjust in the months ahead. Here’s how:
Preparing for extended work-from-home
Many organisations have committed to working remotely for the remainder of the year, and others well into 2021.
If the majority of an organisation’s workforce will be working remotely when they didn’t previously, it’s an adjustment for HR leaders, management and staff. Human resources, in partnership with a company’s IT team, should first ensure employees are equipped with everything they need to be productive working remotely for an extended period of time.
The feedback given to employees during performance evaluations is invaluable and when organisations conduct them just one a year, it robs employees of growth and development opportunities.
It’s important to also ensure the company’s network can handle the extended work-from-home. Coordinate with IT to help facilitate trainings on Zoom and Microsoft Teams, or other video platforms your organisation uses.
Supporting employee mental health:
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, people have had different reactions to the crisis. Some are excited to get out and return to life as it was before, and others are more anxious about next steps.
These anxieties will change as the pandemic dissipates; however, there will be long-term effects human resource leaders need to prepare for. They will need to help employees with information and utilisation surrounding mental health benefits, like health insurance, telehealth, FSA and EAPs.
It’s not that this wasn’t a part of a human resource professional’s role previously, however, it will be heightened in the months ahead.
Addressing the flood of applicants
With more than 40m Americans out of work, they will be applying to open positions in volume. For many organisations, human resources professionals will be at the forefront of company hiring and will field resumes and candidates. Ensure you have a sound process in place for fielding applications and have a streamlined interview process so the volume doesn’t become unbearable.
As the economy turns back around and companies begin to hire again, HR professionals will likely be onboarding new hires virtually. Ensure this process has been refined and is as seamless as possible. This includes the completion of legal documents, technical training, and cultural onboarding to ensure new hires feel welcome and confident in their new role.
The new hire’s onboarding experience is important to gain buy-in from the employee right at the start so they can hit the ground running for your organisation. The last thing you want is to address countless issues virtually if not prepared beforehand.
Virtual performance evaluations
Performance evaluations should resume as normal, and for many organisations, they are realising that doing away with annual reviews and conducting them bi-annually or quarterly is far more beneficiary for employees.
The feedback given to employees during performance evaluations is invaluable and when organisations conduct them just one a year, it robs employees of growth and development opportunities. With technology and the ability to conduct video calls, there is no reason to pause these.
However, HR must identify the best ways to deliver feedback virtually and train managers on this, as well.
Train leaders on virtual management
Despite working from home for several months now, managing a team remotely is no easy feat. Leadership needs to set expectations for output while creating a virtual community of support and cultivating culture remotely.
Leaders will lean on HR teams to help them coordinate and create standard operating procedures to help employees work effectively and efficiently remotely, as well as helping managers be communicative and supportive to their employees during this demanding time.
The last several months have been a world no one has witnessed before, and as we settle into this new reality of work, the roles of human resources leaders will continue to evolve to ensure employees remain productive and engaged.
About the author
Sirmara Campbell is chief human resources officer at LaSalle Network